Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Showers Saga - 30: An Old Friend Comes to Call

One of the interesting things about Gospel Mission is the connection with Rainbow Mission. (No, I'm not about to burst into a rendition of "Rainbow Connection".) That mission, kitty-corner from Oppenheimer Park, started in the 40s and was run by Rev. Robert Brown and his wife, Joyce, for over 40 years before it closed in January 2007. In 2004, Pastor Bob took a "flyer" with this total newcomer, letting me do the Saturday night sermons before I eventually took on the Wednesday night services. Klasina van Weert, along with Don and Roberta Fraser, took charge of Thursdays. Many years before, Barry Babcook and Daniel Vallieres cut their ministerial teeth at Rainbow.

When Rainbow closed, Klasina, along with Sandy Benn, went over to Gospel Mission to do Tuesday nights. When she learned Saturdays were open, she called me, and so my little ministerial "team" -- John Sharp, Danilo Estrada and Amelia Shaw -- and I migrated to Pigeon Park. Klasina has moved on; Sandy is now part of our Saturday night team, along with Brad Bell, who had also helped out at Rainbow from time to time.

Now, there's one more "member" of the Rainbow crew at Gospel Mission -- and The Lord's Rain, in particular.

This painting -- on a slab of wood -- was a particular favorite of mine. There were a number of "home-made" paintings hung around Rainbow, but this one always struck home with me and I referred to it in a number of messages there. Last week, Brad mentioned that he had rescued it from Rainbow Mission when it was closed, and it had been sitting in his apartment ever since, so he decided it needed to be shared. He brought it down on Sunday and Barry nailed it to the wall.

You probably recognize the Scripture on which the painting is based "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." (Revelation 3:20 KJV)
Along with 2 Corinthians 5:17*, this was and remains a pivotal Scripture in my own "walk" and one of my favorite sermon topics. Imagine: Jesus, the Anointed One, the Son of God, actually knocking on my door, wanting to come in and share time with me -- not because I'm anything special, but because that's His will for everyone! The two-way street that "to sup" connotes ... and the fact that, if you look at the picture (hard to see in the photo), there's no doorknob visible. That's because the doorknob is on the inside: it's up to us to open it!

As we come close to finishing our sixth month of operation, we're about to log the 300th shower, which is pretty good attendance, considering our relatively limited opening times so far. But we now are also open from Noon till 5 on Mondays and Fridays, as well as Tuesdays 7-8:30 am, Friday Ladies' Night 7-9 pm and Saturdays, 7-10am. Also, thanks to the hard work by the volunteers from KMPG and Brad's agreeing to take on the job of overseeing it, we are now able to start our clothing exchange during the Tuesday and Saturday openings. We have a washer-dryer now, thanks to Bruce and Sharon Nelson (as mentioned before), but we don't provide a laundry service: any clothing left behind is considered donated (if it's still wearable).

Add to this the fact that we're seeing more people upstairs at Gospel Mission, whom we had originally met through The Lord's Rain, and you can see that the showers project is reaching people in ways we couldn't have thought of when we first started. Accomplishing this has truly been a partnership of all of us here: one of the great blessings has been the ways in which a wide variety of people have been involved in a wide variety of ways -- with their gifts, time, prayer and finances. Essentially, God has carried this project from the day it was conceived almost a year ago now, working through all of you to achieve His purpose. "Many members - one body." Ain't that the truth!

There's no graceful segue to this: we are facing financial need right now. The presentations I give to churches end with a "pitch", but not for money: rather, it's encouragement for people to seek the Lord as to what He wants them to do to serve Him and serve others. If I gave a heavy pitch for people to send us money, it might not be what God wants, and I won't get into that area. So we trust that the Lord will tap people on the shoulder -- as He has done for Gospel Mission since 1929 -- and work through them to provide.

That being said, would you please take some quiet time and seek the Lord about making a contribution to Gospel Mission and The Lord's Rain? Simply send a cheque or money order to Gospel Mission Society PO Box 57151 Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V5K 1Z1. Or ... you could bring it around to 331 Carrall Street (1/2 block north of Hastings) when we're open in the evening (7pm Monday-Saturday, 1pm Sunday) or come to The Lord's Rain during the Tuesday or Saturday morning openings. The contributions are tax-deductible; last year a couple of friends gave donations in the name of a friend or relative as a Christmas gift.
*"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

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